Bad reversing and U-turns among $1.7m in police payouts for fender-benders.

It's a fair cop - police drivers are crashing on average five times a month ... into parked cars.

The thin blue line has been forced to shell out more than $1.7million to patch up cars after hundreds of accidents in the past three years, official figures obtained by the Herald on Sunday reveal.

And legally parked cars owned by members of the public have proven a magnet for our boys and girls in blue.

The figures show officers were pinged 191 times for ploughing into stationary vehicles.

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Police Association president Greg O'Connor told the Herald on Sunday he was stumped by the figures.

"I don't know what the explanation for this would be," O'Connor said. "I can't even hazard a guess why that would be prevalent. All those crashes are occupational hazard-type things and I'm sure it's comparative to any police in the world.

"You've got people out there on the road 24 hours a day dealing with offenders."

Other common causes for crashes included officers reversing badly (118 times), driving into the back of other vehicles (89 times) and attempting swift U-turns (39 times).

Crashing into fleeing drivers accounted for just 39 incidents.

If a member of the public hit a police car they could expect to be charged, and the rules were no different for police officers, O'Connor said.

Police found at fault could be charged with careless use of a motor vehicle, or something more serious, and would have to pay a fine out of their own pockets. "There's some sort of myth that police are easy on their own. But lawyers will all agree police are harder on their own than they are on the members of the public," O'Connor said.

Police have spent more than $1.7m on repairs after these accidents, but O'Connor said the amount was "low".

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In the past three years, Counties Manukau has forked out $266,476 on repairs, more than any other district.

Waitemata follows close behind, having forked out $244,527 at the panelbeater.

A police spokesman said the number of cars in the police fleet varied from year to year. In the past year, police had counted 3187 cars in their fleet. Only 464 of those, or 15 per cent, were involved in crashes with civilian vehicles.